: I do not own official characters mentioned here. They are owned by Disney and Dreamworks and I do not make any money off of them.
So, this is debris I kicked up in writing the most recent chapter of Of State
. Some were pretty long, some were just a few lines, and all just weren't going anyplace but I like them too much to just hit the delete key.
“It’s just the way they are,” Hiccup tells him as Toothless follows them through the encampments within the castle walls. Dragons lower heads and Vikings remove helmets and wave but stay busy. He approves.
Eret looks at him strangely.
“I don’t know about you, sometimes,” Eret tells him. “A few months ago, you were pushing your way into my cages, barking drivel about being best friends with giant lizards that breathe fire, and yet you shrug off a bunch of crazies who decorate themselves with their enemies’ skeleton pieces.”
Hiccup touches the older man’s arm, “Don’t call them crazy.”
Eret’s eyes widen, “You think they’ll kill me?”
“No, but you’ll hurt their feelings,” Hiccup shakes his head. “They spend days making their gear and they’re very proud of them. You know how artists can be.”
They reach a building set into the outer wall of DunBroch castle, high and sharply peaked. Four men sprawl across the steep roof, hammering thin tiles.
“Artists?” Eret reaches for the door. “Don’t they eat people?”
“Of course not,” Hiccup rolls his eyes in dismissive disdain. “People are too fattening.” He steps inside, looks around, and sighs.
“That bad?” Eret casts his eyes around in an irritatingly carefree manner.
“You can’t tell?”
“I was a trapper; I worked with what I had and always deferred to the people who gave me what I had,” Eret gestures to Hiccup with both hands and a deep nod.
“For one thing, it’s a mess,” Hiccup waves to scattered sticks and oddly random pieces of metal thrown haphazardly across the floor.
This one was to be the second scene of the chapter and I loved the conversation between Eret and Hiccup but couldn't see where to go from there. Part of it is my unfamiliarity with smithies and how they should be properly run. The other part is that I must admit that Hiccup's intellect intimidates me sometimes. I'm much more comfortable with politics and history than mathematics and engineering. It won't always be possible to avoid this, but this time I just chickened out.
On another note, I am strangely proud of "Ghoulgoyles."
“I understand. I do.
“Years ago, Berk was the frontline of another war. An old one. My ancestors had fought it, my father had fought it, and I knew--hoped—that I would fight it. It was everything to us, we built our lives and village around killing dragons, protecting ourselves and our farmstock. We dreamed of the day it would end and thought there was only one way to do it.
“We didn’t know there was another way—that the dragons were as unhappy with their raiding as we were
First draft of Hiccup's speech. Probably one of the hardest things I've ever written in this fanfic. IIRC, I thought that the dragons came up too soon.
Hiccup shakes his head, a little angry, before continuing, “It was only with the help of the gods that we found Drago before he was truly ready. So much could have gone wrong—so much did go wrong—in a few minutes when all that was standing between Norse civilization and slavery was one tribe and a few dragons. And when Drago was dragged into Hel to become a servant to his betters, it was only with the help of our gods and dragons they gave us that Bludvist’s fleet didn’t avenge him.”
He pauses, takes a breath, thinks.
“This war…is different,” the words are reluctant, from an unopened drawer within him. “I know the histories, I know why Vikings fight: we fight for glory, for land, for loot, for vengeance. But I also know who we’ve fought, for the last seven generations: each other.
“But we’re not doing that. Many of us won’t be any richer when we go home. From what I’ve seen, the enemy doesn’t have anything back home worth taking. And after a while everybody fights for vengeance in a war. This army doesn’t exist for the normal Viking reasons, it wasn’t built for them. It came about because every tribe here,” he waves hands that sweep in every tribe chief present and absent, “saw that living with the Northern Alliance meant no life at all. That we could all be tribes or be Vikings. We’re fighting for everything we have, everything that makes us who we are and who we could be.”
Hiccup glances around. No one moves. Grump snores. Gobber picks at his fingernails. Heather and Valka both clench their hands.
“When we left our birthlands, where
I got the first paragraph in, and then I wrote all this, looked at it and thought it wasn't working. There was too much detail in some places, too wordy. And the second paragraph of Hiccup's dialogue felt wrong.
Still, not bad, if I do say so myself.
“We were like you, once, where I come from—Berk,” he adds, as if Alvin hadn’t been talking about him for well over a week now. “We had our problems: disease, cold, bad food, not enough food, and…” he gestures towards Toothless, who butts his black head against the hand in reassurance and blinks at the audience curiously.
“But it was ours. We planted our flag, built and rebuilt our houses, and we fought. That was what we had to do, who we were.
“Wars end, though; they have to. And when ours did, it wasn’t the way we thought it would. Instead of dead dragons, or dragons fleeing our lands and waters, we had more dragons than we’d ever had, had ever seen before. We were strong when we were killing dragons, but when we stopped, we became even stronger.”
Helpless before himself, he leans over and gives a vigorous scratch beneath Toothless’s chin that sets the Night Fury to purring. He looks back up to faces that are…not dubious, not enthusiastic, but watchful. They stare at Hiccup’s hand, at a throat that issues an alarm of contentment and happiness. Someone in the sea of armored humanity giggles.
“It’s easy to forget,” Hiccup says slowly, carefully, “that we all come from the same place, driven away from our birthlands by the same…enemy. We almost forgot, once, when Bluetooth landed upon these shores three centuries ago. But we didn’t—we couldn’t—and when he died,” he raises his hands sadly, “our chance fell away. You—the Nine Tribes—stayed while the rest of us made our way further north. And we stayed that way, separated by water and bad blood. We made peace and war among ourselves, but we just couldn’t make a nation—and that was our greatest weakness. The Grottons of Arendelle knew it when they kicked us off the mainland, and Drago knew it when he built his fleet and army, plotting to pick us off, perhaps even set us against each other so he could come and scoop up what was left.”
A pause, to let them remember. Memory lives not only in the mind, but in the blood. The black times: a people sailing away from a burning horizon for a dark one. Desperate hope: storm Mathantir, rebuild their power, teach Europa that Vikings weren’t so easily conquered. Stagnancy: tribal feuds, disease, hunger, isolation.
“He thought we were weak,” he tells them—how Vikings hate that word! “Because we were pushed into the shadows, off the map, forgotten.
This one wasn't working. I don't know what happened, but I decided to write something else. I tried to write something simple but eloquent and couldn't seem to do it.
“And when their last fortress falls, and their last soldier lies bleeding at our feet,” softly, for futures are leaps that need softness at their end, “why let it end as we have all of our old alliances? Why should we take home nothing but honor? Why can’t we have a country too?”
This is pretty much at the heart of the Viking side of the story: a new nation, of Vikings and dragons and all the ideals and problems that come with it. It didn't fit into the story, but still liked this paragraph.